TX-Sen: John Sharp & Bill White Prove Conventional Wisdom Wrong

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I decided to make a quick and easy chart to go along with the excellent post David wrote earlier about fundraising numbers in the U.S. Senate race.

Let's take a look at the totals reported so far in the U.S. Senate race:

 U.S. Senate: TX Fundraising Totals (1st Q)
1Q 2009 Raised Cash on Hand
Personal Loans
Bill White
$2,131,638  $0
John Sharp
Roger Williams
 Florence Shaprio
 ?? $310,000
 Elisabeth Ames Jones
 ??  $164,663  ??
 Michael Williams
$181,000  $113,957 $51,426

What was all that conventional wisdom from months ago again?

This is still a Republican state, and it will remain so for at least the next presidential cycle.
Texas Democrats can dream, but the only thing likely to be blue in 2012 is their mood.

–Evan Smith, Texas Monthly

Let's look at this again — does this look like a Republican state to anyone?

 U.S. Senate: TX Fundraising Totals (1st Q)
1Q 2009 Raised Cash on Hand
2 Democrats
4 Republicans $181,000 + ???
Two Democrats have nearly five times as much cash on hand as their four Republican counterparts in the U.S. Senate race.

I bet Republicans wish they could be so blue. Oh, the sadness of having five times as much cash on hand — and having potentially raised as much as ten times more — than Republicans after the end of the first quarter.

John Sharp and Bill White each reported some excellent numbers, and there is a lot of reasons to be proud about each of them. What's more, each campaign is reaching out to bloggers this year — whether we like how they do it or not — and each has shown some tremendous strength in the simple ways they are organizing their campaigns.

This year, conventional wisdom needs to get thrown out like the rest of the Republican bums that are running this state. Texas Democrats are ready to win today, and so far we've got two great names atop our Party that are helping us make that happen.

Congratuiations to both Sharp and White on strong early numbers. We hope to learn more — and report more — about how they intend to put those dollars to use in the coming weeks and months.


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. Sharp loan?
    Setting aside Sharp's lack of transparency regarding his loan, what does Burnt Orange Nation think Sharp needs to show to demonstrate he has more than net worth but a base? How many donors (White has 1,400)? How much non-loan money?

  2. We have to win this race
    If we win this Senate seat, then the national donors will start believing in Texas and we can start investing in our local grassroots infrastructure instead of exporting our resources to other battleground states. That will be the tipping point, so let's get to work and turn Texas blue.

    Both White and Sharp are excellent candidates, and we're lucky to have such a strong field. We've never elected a statewide Democrat in my voting lifetime, so I'm thrilled that we finally have a realistic chance to take back Lloyd Bentsen's Senate seat.

    If you're in Austin, then swing by one of our upcoming Texans for Obama meetups at Scholz Garten at 6:00pm and get to know these good Democrats:

    * May 19 – Bill White

    * June 16 – John Sharp

      • Agreed
        Hopefully Texas will someday be liberal enough to elect another Yarborough-like candidate.

        But let's never forget Bentsen's contribution to the TX Democratic Party. His legendary 1982 statewide coordinated campaign helped elect a new generation of Democratic candidates like Ann Richards, Gary Mauro, Jim Mattox, Jim Hightower and Mark White. Without Bentsen's leadership, those down ballot candidates would not have been as successful.

        Hopefully this upcoming Senate race will not only provide Obama with a 60th Democratic Senator, but we'll also help elect a new generation of Democrats who can lead us in the 21st century.

        • Robert Ryland on

          Ralph got in in 1957
          in a special election with only 38%, lucked out when LBJ and the Shivercrats picked a weak opponent in '58, and was re-elected in the 1964 Dem landslide when he and LBJ made nice for political expediency – LBJ wasn't going to back a primary challenger in his home state to the guy who was sheperding much of his legislative agenda through the Senate.

          Texas was probably just as conservative then, if not moreso – the party in charge notwithstanding. I think the demographics exist in Texas to elect a candidate like Ralph Yarborough right now, but the political playing field does not. Maybe we should move the game.  

  3. Corbin Casteel on

    Minor edit
    Michael Williams hasn't loaned himself $51k.  Not sure where that came from.  That figure represents invoices that were paid after 3/31.

    Further, when was the last time a Dem outraised (not outspent (Sanchez), outraised) a Republican statewide in Texas?  Doesn't happen often.  The Republican Senate candidate will raise plenty of funds to hold this seat.

    • re:

      Further, when was the last time a Dem outraised (not outspent (Sanchez), outraised) a Republican statewide in Texas?  Doesn't happen often.

      That's our point .. the conventional wisdom is changing. A Republican could outspend White or Sharp in this race, but it will be Dewhurst or Abbott, not any of the candidates currently running.

      That is, unless Roger Williams decides to dip further into his car dealer fortune.

  4. Not to rain on a parade
    But are the currently serving elected officials on a fund raising ban during the legislative session?

    Don't know. Just asking.

  5. Abbott and Dewhurst Problems
    I haven't checked recently, but Abbott was sitting on MILLIONS of dollars in his campaign account ($6-8 million I think). He cannot transfer ONE DIME to a federal election. He will start at ground zero. Dewhurst is rich. He can self fund. Abbott cannot.  

    And neither one of them can shore up support after these other Republicans have been out courting precinct chairs and others for a half year.

    So Abbott is not real unless he honestly believes he can generate $15-20 million in 4 months time at $2400 a pop. I think he is waiting to take that pile of cash to run for Lite Gov if Dew runs for senate. Dewhurst could still do this, but he is not being smart about preserving his base. No GOPer is playing a very smart game to keep their intra-party opposition out.  

  6. The senate race is a special election
    Dale- KBH has said she will vacate her seat. When she does, it triggers a special election: NO primaries.

  7. Robert Ryland on

    But her problem
    then becomes one of engagement. She can't engage effectively with Perry and build a campaign infrastructure from D.C., but it'll look bad for her to keep her seat while she's down here campaigning. If she doesn't get down here this summer, she could be pissing away her margin for error. Perry has made it clear that he's now on the crazy train, but he may be figuring correctly since those folks show up in GOP primaries. Her only path to victory next March is to present herself as the only viable alternative to perry, to both moderate Rs and Dems alike. If we have a credible candidate exciting our base and keeping them in our primary, that really puts her behind the 8-ball.  

  8. Robert Ryland on

    Except high turnout was their friend
    last cycle, with Harris ballooning way beyond their 2006 proportion. I would think they would not want a special (out of cycle election), because the turnout is far less predictable.  

  9. True, but…
    There will be a runoff of the top two. Unless they can whittle it down to two GOPers against two Dems, it is unlikely they can send two GOPers into a runoff, so they would still have an unpredictability and off-cycle election.

  10. I know what she said
    She says a lot of things, and often does differently — just like any politician, Republican or Democrat.  The reality on the ground is that she is in the Senate and has not resigned.  

    Sooner or later she will have to cut deals within her party to get the support she needs to beat Perry in the primary.  It seems likely that support for her will be conditioned upon not resigning until she absolutely has to — which would be after winning in November 2010.  

    It is the smart move for outmaneuvering White and Sharp, who the Republicans do not want to have an even chance of running and winning.  Until 11/10 she does not have to resign.  So I'll believe in this special election when the Governor calls it.  It still looks like Sharp and White have been suckered into staying out of the governor's race.

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